Lawmakers not in session, work on critical issues continues

Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 4:15pm

Interim committee to tackle school finance over two years

Lawmakers are keeping busy ahead of next year’s session as legislative studies begin to take shape. A two-year review of the school finance system was set up by HB17-1287. The first meeting of the Interim Committee to Study School Finance was held in late July and largely focused on procedural matters. A request for proposals was issued to identify a facilitator for the group. The facilitator will assist the committee in gathering information and analyzing legislatively-specified school finance issues. The committee missed its Sept. 1 deadline to announce a vendor. The next full committee meeting is scheduled for Sept. 27.

This committee is made up of five Democrats and five Republicans. Representative Alec Garnett (D-Denver) is the Chair and Senator Owen Hill (R-El Paso) is the Vice Chair. The bi-partisan nature of the committee means compromise will be essential to the success of their work. They have four meetings left to really take a deep dive into the issue of school finance and all of its intricacies. The committee is allowed to introduce up to five bills each session for the two years it is authorized.

In other news, Governor Hickenlooper has revived the State’s Education Leadership Council (ELC) in an executive order issued in June. The ELC was first established in 2011 to provide a forum to discuss statewide education issues. The new ELC will be housed under the lieutenant governor and will develop a vision, strategic plan and recommendations for consideration by the governor and the Colorado General Assembly. It will utilize existing work from the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Higher Education; will benchmark Colorado’s performance against other states and countries; will create a structure to gather feedback from a broad array of stakeholders, including parents, teachers, students, special needs populations, community leaders and education interest groups; and develop potential legislative and budgetary recommendations for consideration by the governor and General Assembly. The group has met once with no future meetings on the calendar.

Pursuant to a new law, the education and higher education departments have conducted several town halls around the state on the teacher shortage issue. Legislation passed during the 2017 legislative session requires an action plan be developed and submitted to the Legislature by December 2017.